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HOW TO GET HERE:
Take either Hwy 180 east from Fresno, CA or Hwy 198 east from Visalia, CA into Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. You will be required to pay an entrance fee. Turn north off of the Generals Hwy (about 8 miles southeast of Grant Grove) onto the road to Big Meadows (FS14S11). Follow the signs to Buck Rock Lookout, approximately 5 miles.
ELEVATION: 8500 FEET
SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST
Vistors Welcome: 10:00 - 5:00 daily when lookout is staffed duing fire season. LOOKOUT MAY BE CLOSED AT ANY TIME DUE TO WEATHER OR EMERGENCY SITUATIONS.
Buck Rock Web Cams:
Located in the Sequoia National Forest, Buck Rock Lookout sits perched atop a granite dome and offers a breathtaking view of the Great Western Divide and other spectacular high mountain peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Access to the top is via a series of stair flights (consisting of 172 steps) suspended from the side of the rock. The current lookout building was constructed in 1923 and is historically significant as a representation of the earliest 4-A style live-in cabs of which there are only three in existence in the world today.
Prior to the current building, an open platform was situated on the top of the rock, which a patrol unit would climb onto to scan for smokes using only binoculars, a compass, and a map. Spotting a smoke, he would quickly descend, hop on his horse and chase down the fire. In 1914, a telephone was installed and a phone line between Pinehurst and Buck Rock was carried by mules and restrung at the beginning of each season. If you look closely, you can see the old ceramic phone line connectors in the trees below the lookout.
Originally, only long slim tree trunks with boards nailed across for steps led to the top. A series of ladders for climbing to the lookout came next, and finally in 1942, a stairway with 172 steps built by Frank Fowler and crew was added to ease the climb. By the 1980‘s, electricity replaced gas and wood as a source of energy, and today the lookout enjoys many of the modern conveniences of most homes.
Why is the lookout named Buck Rock? Legend has it that if you look at the rock from a certain angle, you can see the profile of an Indian warrior. In times gone by, we use to call male Indians “bucks” – thus the name. Native Americans referred to the rock as “Finger Rock”.
The first fire watcher was Buck McGee, who staffed the lookout for several years until Walker Parker took over in 1927. Walker got hooked on lookout life and worked on several other local lookouts throughout the 1930’s, including Stag Dome, Cahoon Rock, Park Ridge, Bear Mountain, and Delilah. His wife Viola (Kanawyer) and their children were often by his side. Leatrice Evinger Dotters was the first lady lookout, and worked at Buck Rock from D-Day (June 6th) through October 31st 1944 without ever leaving for home. Helen Carter Allen was the lookout during the 1960’s – there was still a crank phone, a huge refrigerator and a double bed, which left very little space for anything else. But Helen managed to find just enough room for her companion – a beautiful, bur large husky dog.
During the 1970’s Hume Lake patrols and Engine 32 worked on improving the lookout building by adding new shutters, siding, interior cabinets and map counters, and a very convenient “dutch door”. Luther Gordon was the fire watcher during much of the 1980’s. The marmots were quite active that year, and after finding his vehicle’s electrical system munched on by the cute but destructive creatures, Luther found a system to keep the marmots at bay. A system that is legendary, but one we won’t go into that here…
By the early 1990’s the steps to the lookout were about worn out (and a bit dangerous to climb) so Lakeshore Engine32 Captain Mark Sorenson and his crew set about replacing the 172 steps and the catwalk with all new wood and materials. Their craftsmanship is still very much appreciated by those who currently staff and visit Buck Rock. The crew from Lakeshore Engine 32, continue the tradition of helping with maintenance at the lookout. The lookout was closed for a period of about 10 years during the late 1980’s and throughout much of the 1990’s. In 1999, with the help of the Buck Rock Foundation, Buck Rock was re-established as a primary location for fire detection and has been staffed seven days a week ever since. Well, except for those few days in 2002 when it was “condemned” due to a deteriorating brace that was supporting a landing about 300 feet above ground. Thanks to FS Engineer Sheldon Perkins, contractor John Porter and the Hume Lake District’s pocket book, the landing was repaired – just in time for our annual July 4th Open House Celebration!
Buck Rock is currently staffed 7 days a week during fire season for the detection of wildfires by Forest Service personnel and in partnership with the Buck Rock Foundation Volunteer Program which provides volunteers for relief.
© 2018 Buck Rock Foundation. All Rights Reserved. PO Box 540, Squaw Valley, CA 93675. 559-901-8151